Unfair Treatment of Migrant Workers in the Middle East
Unfair Treatment of Migrant Workers in the Middle East
The Middle East countries are rich in oil and this has improved the living standards of the local citizens, thus making them feel shy to perform the low-paid jobs such as the household chores. This has facilitated a high level of immigration of the foreign workers from different low income countries. The three countries that have the highest number of immigrant workers include the Bahrain, Qatar and Saudi Arabia. Qatar is a leader in the rate of foreign work force migration compared to that of the locals. The number of the immigrant workers in Saudi Arabia is considered to be about 94%, while an approximate of 70% immigrant workers have been identified in Qatar and Bahrain is reported to register around 54% of immigrants (Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain, 2014). Most of the workers are motivated by the hope of sending money back home to their families but life abroad often turns to be much tougher than anticipated. They live in deplorable conditions as their employers abuse them both physically and emotionally. It is thus important to draw attention to these examples of unfair treatment among the immigrants so that those seeking employment in these areas are informed about the potential threats, while the international community can help in upholding human rights in these countries. The foreign workers in these countries should be treated more humanely since they are the ones who contribute to the development of these countries. They are the backbone and hence it is their efforts that have helped these countries remain stable.
Ethical support is required in ensuring that the foreign workers are treated more humanely. This is because female immigrant workers have been instrumental in taking up the tasks initially carried out by the female members of the society. In most cases, they are trafficked into these countries largely due to their parenting situations (Mahdavi, 2013). It is the parenting responsibilities towards their children that make them vulnerable. Prior to the importation of labor, it was mostly girls and women who did most of the household chores (Jureidini, 2005). However, instead of treating the immigrants with dignity and respect to help them in performing the assigned tasks, they mistreat them and abuse them both psychologically and physically. One of the most practiced forms of abuse in Bahrain, for instance, is the low wages. The country lacks minimum wage laws and even the female workers are physically coerced into the signing of receipts that do not match the low wages. This makes the workers lack proof of the fact that their rights have been violated (Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain, 2014). Other workers are beaten and even burnt when they ask for their pay. It is therefore advisable that the respective governments come with laws that help in ensuring the rights of the immigrants are not violated and that they are treated just as the rest of workers.
The Middle East region could benefit immensely from the immigrants if they treated them more humanely (Jain & Oommen, 2016). The huge percentage of the Middle East workers is represented by immigrants and this means that they are crucial for their state’s economy thus making immigrants the backbone of the economic situation in the country. With better treatment, their economy can thrive even at a higher pace than it is at the moment (International Monetary Fund, 2014). It is demoralizing to live in deplorable conditions and at the same time such conditions are expected to be productive (Keane & McGeehan, 2008). Men, for instance, are allocated in rooms that look like dormitories with poor sanitation, no air and running water. These areas are congested and fire prone with the most notable being the fire in Manama that killed about thirteen Asians while injuring eight (Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain, 2014). The Middle East countries should ensure that they come up with policies that work towards the promotion of better working conditions for the immigrants so that their productivity is improved.
The Gulf Cooperation Council has continued to use the Kafala system that has been violating human rights of the immigrant workers in the region. It is ironical that the Kafala system has not lived according to its true value. It is a system that had been formulated so as to make the foreigners comfortable with the host bearing all the responsibilities for the life of the foreigners. Most importantly, the system expects that the host will offer protection and safety to the foreigner (Bajracharya & Sijapati, 2012). There has been an alarming lack of protection among the foreign workers and this requires concerted efforts from both the local and international human rights activists to ensure that immigrants work in a good environment. The workers are denied the contract details and those that are given to them in their home countries eventually turn out to be different from those provided in the host countries. These malpractices hinder the workers from seeking justice. Their human rights are violated as well. The foreign laborers work undefined hours, are abused, denied salaries and subjected to mobility restrictions. They are also raped or sexually assaulted by their employers. The Kafala system has contributed significantly to the development of the region as it has assisted the government with the task of outsourcing labor as well as managing the immigrants (Soto & Vásquez, 2011). It is therefore important that the government comes up with the laws that protect the rights of the foreign workers so that its economy can continue to thrive. The government has failed in providing legislation that would protect the immigrants, thus posing the threat of deportation to them and exposing them to injustice (De Genova, Nicholas & Nathalie Mae Peutz, 2010). Some countries like Bahrain have drafted these laws but they have not yet enacted them.
The governments should see immigrants as workers who generate income for their country and not make them victims of unfair treatment in their country thus ensuring their basic human rights. In regard to the international laws that these countries have ratified, they should seek to uphold them by allowing the domestic workers exercise these laws. The governments should ensure that the kafirs do not withhold the exit visas of the workers as this denies them freedom of escaping hostile conditions provided by their employers (Bajracharya & Sijapati, 2012). Orientation programs should be given to the employers to make them understand their responsibilities. The government has to consider these immigrants as assets and work to provide them with better living conditions that correspond to their human rights, and by so doing, the workers will be more productive thus doubling the economies of the region. Alternatively, the government should hire the private agencies and provide them with strict legislation that upholds the international laws on human rights. In this case, the responsible agencies will keep track of their workers to ensure they offer protection and safety lest they are sued.
It is evident that the immigrant workers have been crucial for the development of the Middle East countries but this is not their actual role. Despite the statements that immigrants perform tasks the locals refuse to do, there is an opinion that the situation is not as simple as it may seem. Every citizen has the right to contribute to the development of their country using their skills and knowledge but this opportunity has been denied to the Emiratis especially the youths (Sayre & Yousef, 2016). It is the availability of the cheap labor that has made the local citizens in the Middle East countries refuse to be employed for the low-paid jobs that are considered unskilled and semi-skilled. If the immigrants were not available for these tasks, the locals would have found ways to encourage them into taking these jobs and this would have improved the situation with employment in the region. Moreover, considering the statement that most immigrants are financially supported, it should be mentioned that most of them are not allowed to bring their families as they tend to earn below US$ 2,650 (Soto and Vasquez, 2017). As a result, most of them cannot even allow staying in the UAE for a long time (Soto and Vasquez, 2017). Nevertheless, they continue coming to the country in a search of better opportunities. However, the immigrants are not always mistreated. In some places of work, the migrant workers are provided with both ethical and financial support by their employers. Some of them manage to earn more than US$ 2,650 per month, which gives them a privilege of living together with their families (Soto and Vasquez, 2017). It is thus important to point out that these countries could use the local labor to boost their economies. Furthermore, not all workers suffer at the hands of their employers.
Conclusively, the Middle East region has had a high influx of immigrants seeking employment in the region. Most of these countries have a considerably high percentage of the foreign workforce, many of whom have been alarmingly mistreated. Women used to do most of the household chores that are currently performed by the immigrants and ironically they have taken part in violating their human rights. Their rights are violated by both their employers and the hiring agencies through denial of salaries, fake contracts, withholding of documents as well as psychological and physical assault. The governments lack viable laws that would protect immigrant workers under the Kafala system that violates basic human rights recognized internationally. With the massive economic development, to which the workers have contributed, it is the responsibility of these governments to offer better conditions to them through legislation so that they can be more productive thus accelerating the economic growth of the region. On the other hand, it can be pointed out that the immigrants have denied the locals an opportunity to contribute to the growth of local economy. The government should thus work to encourage locals to take unskilled and semiskilled jobs. Lastly, not all employers are abusive and there are laws that have enabled foreign workers live with their families.
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